Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Life On Mars

Spoilers ahoy.

Woah, this has set the net alight hasn't it? I can't remember a show having this much impact in a long long time, Doctor Who aside. I'd better whisper this, but I haven't seen a lot of it, but what I had seen had made me fall in love with it, and I was as anxious to find out how it all ended as everyone else. And I thought the ending was fantastic. Lisa, as always, gets it right...

So why does he go there? What takes him back and makes it a more 'feeling' place for him to be? Why love of course. To invoke Twelve Monkeys again, of course he goes back for love. Who wouldn't? And for all I loved the ambivalent sci-fi time-travelling, coma-fragmented, identity-crisis realities of Tyler's worlds, what I wanted was resolution for his heart.


It wasn't, perhaps, a wholly satisfying ending on a "practical" level, in that it's hard to get a handle on what's true/real etc. But it was certainly a wholly satisfying ending on an emotional level. We didn't give monkeys about his 2007 life, we cared about Gene and Annie, so when he went back we were *very* happy. Well I was...

I'm sure you're bored to tears with debating this, but do we think he literally commited suicide? Cos, for me, that's just far too *simple* for what is essentially sc-fi (not too mention far too bleak) but there seems to be a lot of people who think this...

5 comments:

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

I'd call it more a leap of faith, if that isn't too religious a concept in this context. As a Gaiman Sandman story once wisely said, sometimes when we fall, we fly. I'd like to think we're big enough to cope with 'suicide' as an ending (though if they makers are resolute on seeing 2006 as the 'real world' that is a pretty bleak and brave ending to go far), but personally I'm with a physical, mental and emotional leap into possibility and hope - even if that is into a time-travelled world.

Oh yeah, and it doesn't go without saying: "shucks" for the praise...

MediumRob said...

It was a great ending, but it just made me sad. Poor guy has mental health issues and would rather throw himself off a roof to return to the reality inside his head than live in his now-empty life. He needed some therapy: why did they put him back on duty so soon?

But it was great all the same.

Dean said...

It was a decent enough ending, I think for me the very premise of the set-up meant that it was impossible to write an ending that would be wholly satisfying: either you wake him up, thus leaving behind all our 70s characters, and at best *he* actually did go back in time, preventing the death of his girlfriend, and perhaps have him meet a 55-year old Annie. It would have been a nice ending plot-wise but emotionally lacking because, as you say, we only care about the 1970s characters.

The second possibilty, and the one they went with, is that he stays in 1973. And while that one can give you the emotional punch, it lacks any real closure story-wise(see "Doctor Sam Beckett never returned home"). Having him wake up and then opt to go back helps this somewhat, but it also feels like a bit of a cheat: he's been trying so hard to wake up, claiming his life was better than his imaginary one, to have him change his mind after ten minutes seems a little implausible: if the 70s was so much better, why was he so desperate to get back home?

Thinking about it, the way I'd have ended it would have been to play up the sci-fi element a little more - let him actually have gone back in time (the specifics don't matter and don't need to be explained). Have him wake-up, find that his girlfriend was still alive, see other indications of how his actions made things better and, of course, find out that Annie, Gene and the others were killed in a shoot-out during a heist. Then you show the dawning realisation that with modern police buerocracy he actually accomplished more good back in the past, and then he jumps off the roof to get back there.

It would have made the suicide ending (and I did see it as a suicide) a little bit less bleak if what he was going back to was in some way real, and not just for the love of a figment of his imagination.

And while for me that ending would have been the best, even that isn't perfect or completely satisfactory: for a start, the ending as it is only really works if it's in Sam's imagination, as the reality is Gene and co would hate him for betraying them and he'd be transferred back to his post at Hyde and so on...

As I say, really did enjoy the ending and it did surpass my expectations somewhat (I was dreading it to be honest, as it would have been so easy to cop out and have a really wishy-washy ending that gives no closure at all), so top marks and all that.

Nice little interview here:
http://blogs.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/ianwylie/2007/04/life_on_mars_the_answers.html

AnnaWaits said...

Interesting stuff there :) I really want to watch it again and have a rethink now...

Torchwolf said...

My reading of the ending was that when he realised he couldn't feel anything in the the 2007 world, that meant *that* was the unreal one, and the false memory.

And it still took courage and faith for him to kill that world off and go back to 1973, but it wasn't suicide.

But given that *we* know that what he knows about the future is accurate, can we really write off his memories that easily?

So there is still a lot of ambiguity left.

Maybe in time-traveller fashion, he got to chose which timeline he wanted to live in.